Otis Brown Iii

Otis Brown, a New Jersey native, was the son of musicians and music teachers. He grew up listening to rhythm and blues, gospel, jazz, and funk. His father was a jazz band instructor and played with James Brown as well as Al Green. His mother was an educator and principal at Newark’s Arts High School. She was also classically trained and a choir director. It is easy to see that Brown was forced into a profession he did not choose, but he didn’t feel any pressure from his musically-immersed upbringing. Brown says that his parents understood that music was a choice. Brown was a great student of music and played saxophone in church and school. He also attended Delaware State University, where he met jazz legend Donald Byrd. His life was forever changed. Brown was convinced by Byrd, Artist in Residence at DSU to go to New York City for a career as a music educator. Brown says that it was life-changing after he studied at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and Thelonious Monk Institute. Joe Lovano also became interested in Brown. After initially serving as a sub for Lewis Nash, Idris Mohammed and Idris Murdoch in Lovano’s bands, Brown was made a founding member Lovano’s Us Five quintet. They recorded three albums, including the GRAMMY nominated Bird Songs. Esperanza Spalding is Us Five’s bass player. The musical friendship that Brown had with her led to him joining her band and recording her debut album. Spalding says that Brown always gave and received one hundred and ten per cent of his musical talents on the bandstand. This sentiment is shared by almost every musician who has ever met Brown. Ben Williams says, “You get the feeling of playing with him. It’s about his humility and willingness to do whatever it takes for the music to reach its highest levels.” Brown’s faith is the foundation of his humility. Brown says that faith is crucial for him. It’s why he plays music. Without sounding sloppy, I believe it’s essential for raising our children and for all aspects of life. Music is one of these avenues. It would be meaningless without it. It is the reason I do everything.” www.obthree.com

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